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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

BJP, Sena rift widens, leaders avoid each other at city event

mumbai Updated: Nov 18, 2019 01:01 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath

The rift between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena widened further on Sunday, the seventh death anniversary of Sena founder Bal Thackeray, as the Sena has now been pushed to the Opposition benches in Parliament.

In Maharashtra, the bickering between the two parties surfaced during an event organised to pay tribute to Thackeray as their leaders avoided coming face-to-face. Sena workers raised slogans against former chief minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis, who came to visit the memorial at Shivaji Park. The workers were shouting Fadnavis’s Assembly election campaign slogan “Me Punha Yein (I will come back)”. Despite both Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya present opposite the place where a new memorial is coming up, they did not come to meet Fadnavis.

Hours before that, a tweet by Fadnavis was read by Sena leaders as a taunt over “self-respect” and “compromise with Hindutva” in the wake of their bid to join hands with Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

In Delhi, parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi said that Sena MPs will sit on the Opposition benches during the winter session beginning from Monday. “Their MP [Arvind Sawant] has resigned from the Union government and they are now talking to the Congress and NCP. We have allotted them seats in the Opposition,” said Joshi.

Now, it seems just a matter of time when Sena officially breaks its ties with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Earlier in the day, top NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who had rebelled against Sena and was considered a traitor for years, also made a grand entry to the memorial. He said he was working to fulfil the promise made by Uddhav to Balasaheb Thackeray to install a Sena man as CM. He was accompanied by NCP’s state unit chief Jayant Patil. A few Congress leaders like Bhai Jagtap too paid tribute to Thackeray at his memorial.

Although Congress has not officially announced its support to a Sena-led government, a meeting between the party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday in Delhi is assumed to be a crucial one. Pawar, on Friday, had said the three-part government will be formed and will last its term. Pawar held a meeting of his key leaders in Pune and discussed certain issues likely to come up in a meeting scheduled for Monday.

A co-ordination committee of senior state leaders from Sena, NCP and Congress have finalised a power-sharing formula and the draft of the common minimum programme (CMP) for the government. The proposal will be finally approved by the chiefs of the three parties before the official announcement of the new alliance.

Although BJP emerged the single-largest party in the recently held Assembly elections by winning 105 seats, its three-decade-old ally Sena (which won 56 seats) refused to join hands to form the government, demanding chief ministership for 2.5 years. Sena then began talks with NCP (54 seats) and Congress (44 seats) to form the government in the state.

On Sunday, drama started in the morning when Fadnavis in his tweets reportedly taunted Sena over “self-respect”. “Our heartfelt tributes to Hindu Hridaysamrat on his anniversary,” tweeted Fadnavis. Fadnavis also tweeted a video, where he remarked that Balasaheb, who also always upheld self-respect and advocated Hindutva, continued to inspire us,” he added.

This evoked a strong response from Sena MP Sanjay Raut. Raut said that nobody needs to teach them the values of Hindutva. “We will give a befitting reply (to the taunts) on self-respect, Hindutva and nationalism at the right time. We will fulfil the promise of having a CM from Sena given to honourable Balasaheb by Uddhavji,” he said, after paying tribute to the founder of the party. The BJP-Sena secured a comfortable majority in the recent Assembly polls. However, the saffron allies got locked in a protracted battle of political nerves, with Uddhav making it clear he was unwilling to climb down on the demand for the chief minister’s (CM) post for two-and-a-half years ( half the tenure). The result was that BJP as the largest party refused to form the government, citing that Sena was not supporting it. The Sena, meanwhile, approached NCP and Congress, seeking support.


The Shiv Sena took a dig at the BJP’s campaign that it was the party blessed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj saying that anyone who takes his name and does not fulfil the promises is surely going to witness a downfall.

In his weekly editorial ‘Rokthok’ published in Saamana, the party’s mouthpiece, it said that despite the BJP claiming that the party was blessed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, its candidate Udayanraje Bhosale (descendent of the warrior king) was defeated from Satara in the Lok Sabha bypoll. “Whenever people take oath in the name of Shivaji Maharaj and do not keep promises and start thinking of themselves as rulers of the state, then it is a signal of their downfall,” he added.